ASCL says Ofsted report fails to acknowledge funding crisis

Stephen Rollett, curriculum and inspections specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, criticised the latest Ofsted report and its failure to recognise the strains that lack of funding are causing across the education sector

Ofsted released The annual report of her majesty’s chief inspector of education, children’s services and skills 2017/18 on December 4; in it, the chief inspector addresses the full range of Ofsted inspection and regulation both in education and care. It is underpinned by evidence from over 30,000 inspections of, and visits to, schools, colleges and providers of social care, early years and further education and skills.

Despite being heavily evidence-driven, Stephen Rollett, curriculum and inspections specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, was critical of its failure to recognise the funding crisis.

“Amanda Spielman is right to say that some young people have the deck stacked against them, but we wish she would acknowledge that the totally inadequate level of funding in schools and local support services is undermining efforts to improve their life chances,” he said.

He also responded to specific sections of the report to identify how funding — and other issues faced by SLTs – should be taken into account.

SEN support
“Schools are working tirelessly to provide the most vulnerable children in our society with the education they need and deserve in the face of significant budget cuts — as well as the erosion of local services for families and children. These funding pressures make it more difficult to give children the individual support which is so important in helping them to overcome learning challenges, and it means that schools are less able to put in place the early intervention which prevents challenging behaviour escalating to the point of an exclusion. Schools are doing their very best for children with special educational needs, but are being expected to do more with less.”

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Stuck schools
“These schools are often badly affected by nationwide teacher shortages making it extremely difficult for them to secure sustained improvement. They also suffer from the impact of an accountability system in which the dice are loaded against them. School performance measures, and Ofsted inspections, are, themselves, part of the problem. They stigmatise schools which makes recruitment even more difficult, and leadership a precarious business. Part of the solution needs to be a new, and less severe, approach to accountability.”

“The vast majority of school leaders deplore off-rolling and will welcome any action to crackdown on this unacceptable practice. It is important, however, that data on high levels of pupil movement is used as the starting point to a conversation and that inspectors don’t go into schools with a pre-conceived notion.

“We are reassured by the approach outlined in Ofsted’s annual report but we will need to see how this works in practice.”

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